Communication "Shipwrecks": Problems Caused by Corporate Communication Fails

Communication “Shipwrecks”: Problems Caused by Corporate Communication Fails
By MJ Hurley
July 25, 2016

Washington, DC – Let’s play a word association game. When I say “manatee,” what comes to mind? Some might say “sea cow,” while others might refer to the animal’s slow movements. Regardless, no one would want to be compared to one. Yet a major international retailer chose to name one of its plus-size dresses “manatee gray,” but named the identical dress in a smaller size “dark heather gray.” Some customers, as would be expected, weren’t pleased.

The retailer later attributed the inconsistency to faulty communication: the different buying teams had failed to consult each other when naming the dresses.

Corporate Communication Errors
Pam Hurley, CEO of Hurley Write, a consulting firm that specializes in teaching and developing writing courses for major organizations such as Apple, Intel, and Dillard’s said, “Unfortunately, we’re seeing corporate communications fail more and more often. We find that many of the professionals we work with often fail to think about their audience and what their audience wants or expects. The ‘manatee gray’ scenario is a prime example. Even if the grey were a dead ringer for the color of a manatee, this retailer should’ve thought more critically and carefully about the name it gave to the plus-size dress. After all, I would assume that one of their goals was to sell as many dresses as possible, not turn potential buyers away. This example illustrates the power of language and of the necessity of considering one’s customers.”

White Paper
For more about corporate communication fails and the consequences and lessons learned, read Hurley Write’s newest white paper, “Communication Shipwrecks: Lessons Learned from Communication Failures in the Workplace,” which can be found here.

About Hurley Write
Hurley Write, a certified women-owned small business, is an international firm with offices in Washington, DC; and Charlotte, NC. They specialize in teaching and developing business, technical, and scientific writing courses for companies across all industries. For more information, visit

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